Baseball Hall of Famer Stan Musial, perhaps the greatest Cardinal of all time, summed up another candidate for that title in seven simple words: "Gibby is one of baseball's greatest competitors." Gibby, of course, is Bob Gibson, and his fiercely competitive nature is one of the many traits he possessed that allowed him to succeed at such a high level.
But to fellow Cardinal great Tim McCarver, Musial is underselling Gibson just a little bit. No, Gibson isn't one of baseball's greatest competitors. He is and forever will be baseball's greatest competitor, if not the best in that category that the entire world of sports has ever seen.
The longtime backstop and announcer joined "The Boone Podcast" with Bret Boone and discussed Gibson's legacy. Who was a greater competitor than Gibby?
"In the field of sports, Michael Jordan maybe — maybe — but I don't think anybody had the aura of doing the job with what Bob had to offer," McCarver said. "He was mean, he was testy, he was terrific and every way. And nobody, in my opinion, in the history of the game will ever be the competitor that this man was. To say one of a kind is extraordinarily trite... what a professional.
"Never in the history of the game will there ever be one to match him."
Even those with similar competitiveness and success levels — Boone pointed to Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson as examples — can stack up to Gibson in McCarver's eyes, and it all starts with the fact that he came first.
"They all learned it from Gibson. Nolan learned a lot from Gibson because Nolan was just coming into his era, but he learned a lot — an awful lot — from Gibson," McCarver said. "But it was Gibson long, long before... Nolan Ryan was mean as well, as were a few other pitchers, but not since Bob has there been anybody."
Hall of Famer and frequent adversary Ernie Banks — he was 24-105 in his career against Gibson — mentioned that not only was he "one of the finest athletes and human beings" he'd ever met, but that he "instills the competitive drive in others." Joe Torre called out his intensity and dedication among other traits. And there are likely hundreds of other testimonials to his toughness from the rest of the MLB community.
Gibson passed away in October of 2020 after fighting pancreatic cancer for more than a year, and tributes like these allow for his legacy to spread as strongly as ever before. And the next time you see a pitcher with the type of intensity and competitiveness that breeds success, know that Gibson was likely a driving influence.
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